Water seeks its own level,
on a quest to find the sea;
The answers we seek taste of metal,
our understanding like liquid drawn from a well
that finds the hard edges
of knowing, the galvanized pail
holding the essence of our being
in one place, in this world.
What is outside this frame of steel,
this skeleton that time binds to this space?
To where are we going?
From where did we come?
What can we know of answers,
we who will be one day poured from this bucket
into the ocean?
What need is there of questions then,
when we are part of the wave?
And to those who are still on the shore, separate,
how shall we describe
what is gained, what is lost?
“Wherever I look, I see men quarrelling in the name of religion —
Hindus, Mohammedans, Brâhmos, Vaishnavas, and the rest. But they
never reflect that He who is called Krishna is also called Úiva, and
bears the name of the Primal Energy, Jesus, and Âllâh as well — the
same Râma with a thousand names. A lake has several ghâts. At one
the Hindus take water in pitchers and call it ‘jal’; at another the
Mussalmâns take water in leather bags and call it ‘pâni’. At a third
the Christians call it ‘water’. Can we imagine that it is not ‘jal’,
but only ‘pâni’ or ‘water’? How ridiculous! The substance is One
under different names, and everyone is seeking the same substance;
only climate, temperament, and name create differences. Let each man
follow his own path. If he sincerely and ardently wishes to know God,
peace be unto him! He will surely realize Him.” — Sri Ramakrishna
21 DEC 2004
Should you and I want to discuss
the ins and outs of our belief
(how one way suits and others don’t),
let’s keep it to the point, and brief,
and leave those things like faith behind.
For faith and reason do not meet;
the one without the other fills
quite different needs: pure faith exists
to carry us between effects
for which we find no logic’s cause.
And reason? That’s the evidence
that each will use to prove their case
(and often, when intents diverge,
can point so many different ways
and then make liars of either side.
But you and I, unless we hate,
can talk about our firm beliefs;
and find perhaps some middle ground
where our perceptions may give way
to solid ground, instead of air.
But hate? What good is that to us,
if what we dream we can achieve
is something more than us and them,
beyond the blame we both should share,
some kind of balance, some small peace?
Let’s talk, and leave such fools behind
that would become what they despise;
instead, let’s listen for a while
and let our voices, strained with shouts,
take time to heal before we speak.
15 SEP 2008
Religion is not the enemy; it is just a tool
employed by those who would control
and those who seek to rule
by any means to make it seem
as if this world is just a dream.
It’s not great evil or great good;
it does exactly as it should,
considering why it was made:
to keep in silence, and afraid
to challenge why the poor remain
and their hard lives
are filled with pain.
For if this world’s a proving ground,
it should be so for all;
instead, it’s playground for the rich,
and workhouse for the small
who’re told that they’ll inherit
the whole next world, in due time.
And the powerful are happy
as long as each week, in long lines,
their labor force goes willingly
to hear how they should wish
for more of the short end of the stick
and fill the offering dish.
To know is to have learned it,
and by use, to understand.
To believe is just to claim to know,
by learning second-hand.
But faith is more: believing
in the absence of all facts,
or when facts contradict belief
or are against it stacked.
And that’s the tool religions use
to subjugate the throng:
convincing you something is true
when sense tells you it’s wrong,
belittling your lack of faith
when you express some doubt
that those in power should be there
and you should be left out.
19 MAY 2006
If this were a Christian country
by Jehovah’s rules,
there’d be much more compassion
and glad suffering of fools,
less hands out full of gimme
with mouths full of much obliged,
no clear advantage to the rich,
less chance of a free ride.
There’d be a lot less hoarding,
much less emphasis on fame;
the suffering of even one
would bring all others shame.
Equality would be the rule,
and bigots would be shunned;
there’d be no race for riches,
nor a need for all these guns.
An even-handed justice would
inform our politics;
and none would need to worry,
from the ghettos to the sticks
on whether their best interests
by the corporate lust was served;
the good and kind would be rewarded,
just as they deserve.
At least, that’s the great theory,
but in practice, I’m afraid
that we have used religion
to create this world we’ve made.
We’d be a Christian country,
but we’re quite afraid of saints;
so holier-than-thous, be thankful
that Christian it ain’t.
05 MAY 2006
Tonight, I answered questions
from a survey-taking girl
who wished to know where I weighed in
on God’s place in the world.
The purpose for the questions
seemed to me a bit unclear;
more fodder for pro-Christian ranting
or control, I fear,
but I took part, and did my best,
although the answers seemed
to only fit such a small range
of my spiritual scene.
She asked after my parents,
and the job I thought they did;
if moral guidance and the Bible
formed me as a kid.
I told her it was by example
that my parents taught;
they did not spell out right and wrong,
and certainly did not
expect that I would blindly follow
their belief or creed,
but rather taught integrity
and finding what you need.
It’s odd – responsibility
seemed not to be a part
of the survey; I guess
that would put horse after the cart.
Instead, did I attend a church,
or pray, or fellowship,
believe that Jesus Christ had sinned?
At that, my kindness slipped,
and I said, how would I know that?
I never met the man;
he lived two thousand years ago.
And if you think you can
believe what’s printed up in books
and sold like blessed snake oil,
there’s not much hope for anyone
escaping evil’s coil.
I strongly disagree that evil
beyond the selfish, clutching hands
who prey on those outside
the mainstream, where the status quo
dictates that blame be found
in others first, before yourself.
You seek God? Look around
and make the world a better place
by caring for more than
your own private and shallow soul.
Try that on, if you can.
Whose God? Whose Bible?
Whose church service
would you have me grace,
when everyone I meet has
good and evil in their face?
Truth is a pathless land;
it wanders beyond black and white.
To posit otherwise is like
a blind man, in the night
giving directions to a man
who cannot hear a word.
One’s map is forged, the others’ blank;
both seem a bit absurd.
12 JUL 2005
The times when goodwill, peace and love
are praised are rare indeed;
and rarer still those instances
when thought translates to deed.
So in such seasons where these things
are found, take heart, rejoice,
and with compassion, grace and honor
add your hands and voice.
It matters not whose holiday
was borrowed, changed or nicked;
but just that at this time of year,
the bubble has been pricked
that splits us up in separate lives
and robs us of the sense
that we are all part of the whole
So wassail, carol, hymn and jig;
let yuletide spirit reign —
for sadly, it may be a year
before it comes again.
25 DEC 2004